As we continue our efforts to digest the meaning of recent attacks on our embassies in the Middle East, and the direction taken by leadership of the movements we have called the Arab Spring, I’m continually amazed at the feigned surprise on the part of American leaders that the people of the region not only have the nerve to complain about the nature of America’s influence in their countries, but apparently wish as much as ever to have us out of their lives completely, and as soon as possible.
All this phony consternation is coming into sharp focus surrounding the rage over a hateful movie that clearly serves no purpose other than inciting rage.
Our secretary of state, referring to the murder of our ambassador to Libya, tells the world she cannot understand how this sort of thing could happen in a country that ‘we’ helped liberate, and city ‘we’ helped save?
Her question is a textbook effort at obscuring the reality of our intent as concerns the ‘help’ we offer to the people fighting for freedom and justice in the region.
We have a long history of propping up repressive regimes in order to control the energy resources of the region, and it is fast becoming clear in the aftermath of uprisings in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and now Syria, that our efforts are focused not in authentic support of the aspirations of those fighting for freedom, justice and self-determination, but in maintaining control of the resources we’ve controlled for the past one hundred years by supporting the very oppressors they currently seek to overthrow.
To this end, it’s quite clear that we’ve worked to undermine real progress on the part of the newly elected leaders in Egypt, and encouraged the Egyptian military to hobble their new president and impose limits on his, and his party’s ability to lead.
Likewise in Libya, we have no intent of allowing local self-determination if any part of that determination is to re-think the relationship between multi-national oil companies and Libya’s energy resources.
It wasn’t even necessary for us to show our hand in Bahrain, our Saudi proxies were glad to supply the muscle to directly put down the uprising in that country while we stood by and watched brutal repression all the while wringing our hands and loudly proclaiming that not only do we not understand what is going on, but there was nothing we could do.
Syria now burns and endures slaughter because for the most part the mayhem is useful to our purpose, and our ‘interests’.
And here is where we come to my central reason for this analysis, that being the ‘big lie’ we are perpetrating in characterizing our involvement in Middle Eastern politics as having anything to do with “spreading democracy, and freedom”.
Our involvement in the Middle East is what is has always been; the hegemonic control of the region, and it’s energy resources, which are the underpinnings of the military might through which we control the world to the benefit of the 1%.
This ‘big lie’ is carefully crafted, not for the people of the Middle East, who perfectly understand their own history of exploitation at the hands of western oligarchs, but for the American public whose continuing ignorance of their country’s real place in the world is so necessary to maintaining those oligarch’s carefully crafted hegemony.
In short, our imperial leaders know that in order to maintain control abroad, they must hide the oppressive nature of their interference in Middle Eastern politics from the American people, behind feigned efforts to ‘spread democracy and freedom’.
To this end they do everything in their power to discredit, and trivialize the leadership of what we are calling the ‘Arab Spring’ by portraying them as not-yet-ready for democracy and freedom, as incapable of controlling the chaotic forces that have been set loose by their struggles, or as religious extremists seeking to impose a strange and barbarous control on their own people.
From this perspective, it should be easier to understand why American leaders are working so hard to maintain the seamless facade of make believe confusion as to why ‘those people’ could possibly be angry with Americans, who after all, have done so much to support their cause.
Amidst all this faux confusion, suddenly appears a truly disgusting movie clearly calculated to enrage the ‘Muslim Street’ and lo and behold, we have a torrent of that ‘inexplicable rage’ that our leaders find so useful in leading the American people to forget any compassion they might harbor for the people of the Muslim countries of the Middle East, and accept as fact the necessity of American support to yet another oppressive government probably led by a ‘strong leader’ because ‘those people’ are obviously incapable governing themselves in the same admirable manner that Americans do.
Forgotten in all this carefully crafted ‘confusion’ is a monumental disappointment that has been totally overlooked; that being the very real, but now lost opportunity that was present for a short while after President Obama took office, the opportunity that Barack Obama addressed in one of his three great speeches that could have had truly historic importance if only it had been coupled with a sincere determination to fulfill the promises it contained.
President Obama inspired the American people with a speech concerning our problem with racism. He sought to inspire the world with his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, and he inspired the Muslim world to a new optimism in the ‘New Beginnings’ speech he delivered in Cairo Egypt.
The somnambulant Americans of course probably either never expect, or don’t care to be delivered from the weight of racism, and much of the world knows better than to pay attention to Nobel acceptance speeches, but the Cairo speech was delivered to a people who are truly thirsty, and ready for a change in plan, and who took the President at his word when he said he wanted a ‘New Beginning’.
They took him seriously when he called for peace between Israel and Palestinians. They hoped he was telling the truth, that America understood, and was ready to support their aspirations for peace, freedom, and self-determination.
I’m sure the leadership of the Middle East for the most part understood that Obama’s speech was just more empty posturing, but I can understand why the Arab Street might have higher expectations of America’s first Black President, and I understand their anger now, at finding themselves facing not the ‘New Beginning’ they were promised, but more of the same old shit they’ve been facing for a hundred years.
They face the same old imposition of repressive governments, propped up by American money and weapons, in direct opposition to their expectation of self-rule.
They face the same old theft of their natural resources, on one hand, and on the other, a continuing poverty rooted in large part in the unexplainable indifference on the part of those ‘Exceptional Americans’.
It isn’t our freedoms that enrage the Muslim world, and it isn’t religious hatred.
They are enraged at nearly a century of foreign exploitation and oppression.
They are enraged because our ‘rulers’ purposely seek to enrage them, and our ‘rulers’ do this in order to demonstrate to us, the American people, that the Muslim world is somehow not ready to join the ‘civilized’ world, and that they are unworthy of our compassion.
Our ‘rulers’ want us to think that the Muslim world deserves the suffering that they receive at our hands, because they are a cruel and murderous people who would kill the very people who are trying to help them.
I’m hoping here, that in understanding how our ‘leaders’ encourage us to be confused about the Muslim world in order to obscure their continuing exploitation, and oppression of Muslim peoples, we might wake up to the possibility that the same rapacious greed is responsible for our confusion as to the cause of our own economic hardships.
It’s not an accident that we’re just as confused about our own impending economic ruin, as we are about why ‘those people’ hate us.